Mastodon – The Hunter (2011) / Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014) Sub-Reviews

Guess who this is? Yeah, it’s Speedy. Everyone’s favourite, obviously. Anyway, I love Mastodon, as you’ll probably know; but what you won’t know is that it’s all I’m interested in listening to at the moment. So, I’ve decided to go with the new Sub-Reviews thing – which was my idea, by the way, I’m so proud – and review every Mastodon album I haven’t yet, from Leviathon to Once More ‘Round the Sun. So here we go.

The Hunter (2011) Sub-Review

Which cover do you want? Pick and choose, they’re both cool!

The Hunter is always the album I’ve said is my least favourite of the lot; but I never really put much thought into that conclusion. In fact, I don’t actually know if it’s as good (or better) than Remission or not, now that I’ve listened to that more.

I know, though, that I don’t like this album quite as much as a couple of other Mastodon albums; and that’s due to a few things. Firstly, it’s the album with the least prog in it, certainly, and that strips the music back a bit. Secondly, I don’t think the singing is at the same quality as it is in other records, as Troy Sanders sings more, and Brent Hinds sings less – the opposite to Crack the Skye – and Troy’s voice simply isn’t at its best, I don’t reckon. And, finally, it seems a little disjointed, and doesn’t follow the same sort of sound throughout, or vision, and it’s probably a bit too long. Oh! Also, Bedazzled Fingernails hasn’t got a very good name, and it ain’t a brilliant song.

However, there are a lot of fantastic songs in the album, namely Black Tongue, Curl of the Burl, Stargasm and All the Heavy Lifting. Also, with more of a concentration on the metal sound, riffs and choruses, it’s certainly a very entertaining listen. And though it may be a little disjointed, there is a lot of brilliant variety in the album, with Creature Lives coming to mind, as a song that sounds deceivingly like a Christmas song, that has a sound which fills the space it’s been given.

Furthermore, the album has very, very good sound quality, with a clear, and powerful sound; in which Brent Hinds (the guitarist), Troy Sanders (the bassist) and Brann Dailor (the drummer) really strut their stuff, especially Brann Dailor.

To conclude, The Hunter isn’t Mastodon’s best record, but it’s certainly a very good one, and a particularly entertaining listen that’ll keep you coming back for more.

So I give it: 87/100.

Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014) Sub-Review

Probably my favourite album cover.

Once More ‘Round the Sun is a record with a very accomplished sound: a loud, powerful, catchy and sludgy one; which brings together a lot of what Mastodon do best.

It starts emphatically, and in pretty much perfect fashion, with an angry, heavy song in Tread Lightly, driven by the vocals of Troy Sanders. It’s catchy, mosh provoking, and technically brilliant: being one of my favourite Mastodon songs. The next two songs carry on in similar fashion, though maybe not quite in the same memorable way. Brann Dailor’s vocals in The Motherload and High Road carry them along with his incredible drumming, in brilliantly catchy songs with a great, rocking sound.

Then Once More ‘Round the Sun comes along, a short, but very entertaining burst of fun; seeing the first appearance of Brent Hinds vocals, which seem to be slowly disappearing. What next? One of the best songs the record has to offer? Yep, Chimes at Midnight, which is a fantastically hard-hitting, sinister sounding song. And then, with Asleep in the Deep and Feast Your Eyes, though there is a slight dip in quality, the same brilliant sound is there.

What next? Ooh, the next three songs are good. Ember City and Halloween especially, which are fantastic metal songs — Mastodon style. Which be cool.

However, with the final song, Diamond in the Witch House, comes a sudden steep decline in quality, tempo and heaviness, in a song trying too hard to go back to the band’s roots; because clearly what they do now is a very different sound – which the rest of the album emphatically represents.

In conclusion, Once More ‘Round the Sun is a fantastic, fun listen, which tips and turns with incredible drum work, guitar work and the best performed vocals to date – probably – in a slightly inconsistent, but instantly recommendable album — and one of my favourite to listen to nowadays.

So I give it: 93/100.

– Speedy.

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